- 23 June 2021
- 6 min read
Occupational Therapist Salary And Pay Guide
What sort of pay can you expect as an Occupational Therapist? And what are the long-term career prospects?
An Occupational Therapist provides practical support to help people overcome barriers associated with ageing, illness or accidents that prevent them from living an independent life
Occupational Therapists can work with younger or older people alike, with physical or learning disabilities. (Read this article if you want to know what Occupational Therapy is.)
It’s a uniquely interesting and challenging role that involves working with a vast array of specialists, in a wide variety of settings and locations.
This guide has all the answers to any pay related questions.
What Is The Average Salary For An Occupational Therapist?
According to the latest industry stats, the average annual salary for an Occupational Therapist job is between £33,000 and £37,000.
The vast majority of Occupational Therapists work in the NHS, and this pay range represents somewhere in the middle of a Band 6 salary. It also assumes someone with several years of experience.
What Is The Starting Salary For An Occupational Therapist?
The starting salary for an Occupational Therapist is £24,907 a year. That’s a Band 5 salary, and it increases incrementally with every year of experience.
Do Occupational Therapists Work Outside the NHS, And How Much Do They Earn?
A small portion of Occupational Therapists do operate within the private sector, while others work directly for local government – which can take you into the community, or venues like schools, prisons, GP surgeries and more.
In local government posts, wages are likely to be very similar to those in the NHS.
In the private sector, average salaries are less clear.
Some experienced Occupational Therapists decide to set up their own private practices.
In these instances, incomes vary greatly as with any small business.
There is however potential to earn far more than in the public sector.
Some OTs may also work for a private hospital or private medical company. Anecdotally, salaries may be slightly higher.
How Much Do Locum Occupational Therapists Earn?
A Locum Occupational Therapist can expect to earn anywhere between £22 and £37 an hour.
In comparison to the hourly rate of an average NHS position, this might be slightly higher.
However, that assumes that you can find work year-round – and you won’t receive the holiday pay and other benefits you can expect in the NHS.
You’ll likely work through an agency, and the more experience you have, the easier it will be for them to find you work and negotiate a good hourly rate.
Of course, if you’re looking to work part-time, working as a locum can be especially beneficial
How Do You Increase Your Salary As An Occupational Therapist?
In most cases, increasing your earnings as an Occupational Therapist is about increasing your skills and knowledge, and applying them in your work.
You can take training courses in order to specialise within a certain field like orthopaedics or cardiac, and where possible you can try to gain work experience within these different fields.
Working in a research or educational capacity will also help your prospects of applying for more senior or specialised positions with a higher starting salary.
As you gain more qualifications and more experience, your ability to apply for better paid positions or command a higher salary will increase.
What Are The Long-Term Career Prospects For An Occupational Therapist?
Th first step up the career ladder as an Occupational Therapist is to become a senior or specialist Occupational Therapist, which will see you move into a Band 6 salary range.
Beyond that, further development of skills and experience could see you become an Advanced Occupational Therapist, which normally earns you a Band 7 salary – which is beyond £44,000 a year.
The most experienced Occupational Therapists can become consultants, where you will actively influence the strategic direction of wider service teams.
At this level you could earn between approximately £45,000 and £62,000 a year.
It’s also possible to move into education, research, social services or care management, or to open your own private practice.
All of these directions offer the possibility of higher salaries – so along as you have the required experience.
What Does The Future Hold For Occupational Therapy Pay?
Occupational Therapists start at a Band 5 salary in the NHS, just like nurses. So, despite not being as widely discussed as nurses, Occupational Therapists also find themselves embroiled in the now infamous 1% pay rise debate.
It’s been noted by many industry experts that Occupational Therapists have been under immense strain as a result of the pandemic – and that this pressure will only grow in the years to come.
That’s largely because Covid has left many people requiring more specialist help in the community as a result of serious Covid-related hospitalisations, or because they now live with Long Covid.
There could be a staff shortage as a result, and Occupational Therapists’ workload could become even bigger.
These efforts should be recognised with a more generous pay increase after years of stagnation, experts agree. But time will tell how the government responds.